Snickerdoodles

David and I have been together for over thirty years at this point. He is the real reason I go into the kitchen every day. I mean if I didn't, he would starve to death, wouldn't he? I am making fun of course. David is actually one of those people that can open the refrigerator, pull out a bunch of stuff, put it all in one pot and cook up the most delicious meal you can have.  I'll talk more about this in a later post but for now I wanted to tell you about David’s favorite dessert.

If you were to ask me what my favorite dessert is, I would say without hesitation “ice cream.” Real fast after that I would say, “and pie.” Even faster after that I would probably add “and cake” (but only if it's moist). It's really hard for me to choose a favorite. It depends on my mood, the weather, and any number of other factors that don't mean anything in the end. David always tells me I tend to make things too complicated. 

David: There is a bowl of ice cream, a piece of pie, and a slice of cake on the table, which one do you want the most?

Me: What kind of ice cream is it?

David: Whatever flavor you like the best.

Me: Is the pie warm?

David: If that's the way you want it, sure.

Me: If I pick up the ice cream and it "accidentally" falls out of the bowl onto the pie or cake, am I stuck with an empty bowl or do I get to choose from the now improved pie or cake? And why do I have to choose just one? Did I do something wrong? Is there an upcoming cake or pie shortage you’re not telling me about?

David: Forget it.

Truth is, when it comes right down to it, ice cream is usually my number one pick.  Perhaps because the ice cream will melt if you don't eat it right away and then you can still come back for the pie or cake. Simple, right?

When you ask David what his favorite dessert is he answers right away without hesitation and without any wavering afterward. For him it is a cookie. It doesn't really matter what kind, though oatmeal raisin is right at the top of his list. David is not a fan of creamy desserts or desserts without some chew to them. Put a piece of tiramisu in front of him and he'll take a bite or two, but rest assured he'll be longing for a cookie at some point soon after or he just won't be satisfied. He won’t be shy saying so either. For him cookies contain all the qualities necessary for the perfect dessert. 

You may have heard about how realtors would bake a batch of cookies during open houses so prospective buyers would feel at home as they looked through other peoples closets and basements. The smell of baking cookies supposedly makes the house appear warm and inviting. That seems valid to me, but if I were to walk into a home with cookies baking I would hang around the kitchen and never see the rest of the house. I wonder, did they offer you a glass of milk with your cookies? Turns out people saw right through this tactic so they don’t do that as much anymore. However, for those of you who would like your home to smell like you're baking all the time, there are air fresheners and candles on the market that will turn your home into a bona fide bakery without all the baking fuss. They are also without the payoff of cookies though, which is a serious downside.

One of the first things I ever baked was a cookie. Nestle Toll House Cookies to be exact. This was the go-to cookie of the day. It was so simple. You never had to write down the recipe since every time you bought the chocolate chips it was printed right on the bag! Next I added oatmeal cookies to my repertoire, again because the recipe was printed right on the lid of the oatmeal container. I think it's a clever ploy, because every time you open the container of oatmeal for breakfast, invariably you look down at the lid and...poof, suddenly you want cookies. Okay, maybe that's just me. I'm not sure why the peanut butter people haven't used this idea. I'll bet they would sell more peanut butter. At least I would buy more, that's for sure. Rolled sugar cookies were the next thing I tried because I could use cookie cutters and make them on holidays. Every holiday! There is a cookie cutter available for almost any holiday or special occasion you can think of. That's right, the sugar cut-out cookie was not just for Christmas anymore. This made me very happy. Every time a holiday (or pseudo-holiday) came around I broke out my rolling pin, my cookie cutter box, my icing sugars, and I baked. The next day I would stack them high on a large plate and take them to school or the office where they would be gone before lunch.

What's great about cookies is they can be made with almost anything you like. There are so many varieties. I have seen cookies with dried cherries, dates, potato chips, and marshmallows. Cookies can be made big, small, crunchy, chewy, thick, or thin. You can have them plain, iced, drizzled, coated or glazed. Just ask the Girls Scouts, they know all about variety. There is a problem however with cookies that are overly packed with additional items which is they can become way too sweet. The kind of sweet that makes your teeth hurt after eating just one. Dentists must love cookies like those, but I think one of the best things about food is you can almost always make things simpler.

The cookie I want to talk about today is one of those simpler cookies. It is a cousin of the sugar cookie... the unassuming Snickerdoodle. A classic, simple cookie that is so easy to prepare and yet still has enough “oomph” to make even David happy. Some folks feel that Snickerdoodles should only be made around Halloween but I think that's quite unfair. Just because it's rolled in cinnamon sugar doesn't mean it can only be baked in the fall or winter. Even I used to dismiss this cookie because it just looked so plain compared to chocolate chip cookies with their chunks of chocolate peeking out, or the multi textured oatmeal cookie studded with raisins. But this ordinary looking cookie is simply delicious and shouldn't be overlooked.

This recipe for snickerdoodles which I found in Cooking Light magazine way back in 1988, does two things I like, first it decreased the usual butter content to only ¾ of a cup which means they won’t really spread out much while they bake and the flour is increased a little which helps them keep their signature cakey like texture. If the only snickerdoodle you have eaten was a crispy, crunchy, flat cookie, then you haven’t eaten a snickerdoodle. There are a few tradeoffs to tweaking the recipe like this, tradeoffs that I am willing to accept:

1.   This recipe calls for the dough to put in the freezer for about an hour so plan ahead if you need them ready by a certain time.

2.   This dough is a little stiff, a stand mixer really helps, but whatever you use just be sure it is well mixed before freezing.

On the left - Right out of the oven

On the right - After a good spatula smash

3.   Since these won’t spread too much, they will still be fairly rounded after they are baked. To make them more “cookie” like: As soon as you take them out of the oven gently, but firmly press them with the back of a spatula to flatten. Take a look at the picture on the right and you'll see what I mean. When you press them down they will get their signature cracking on the sides.

 

If your ready to print my copy of this recipe you'll find it here.

If you have a stand mixer you’re all set, otherwise a good electric mixer will do.

Go to the cupboards and gather these ingredients… you’ll want these to be at room temperature so let them sit on the counter for about 45 minutes or so.

Ingredients

For Cookies:

  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

  • 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

  • 1⅓ cups sugar

  • 2 eggs

For Rolling:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions

Putting these cookies together could not be easier. Below is how I put them together.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar so they are well combined and set that aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and set speed to medium. Let the butter get a little soft and the gradually add the 1⅓ cups sugar.

Continue beating at medium speed until the butter is very light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Next drop in the eggs. One at a time and beat them well after each addition.

Scrape down the bowl a little to bring everything together then with the mixer on low speed gradually add in the flour mixture until it's well mixed. Give the bowl a final scrape down just to be sure all the flour is mixed in then cover the bowl in plastic wrap and stash it in the freezer for an hour.

While the dough is in the freezer...

Combine the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

When the hour is just about up you can preheat your oven to 375ºF, with your oven rack in the middle position.

Use a piece of parchment paper on your cookie sheet or use a non-stick mat if you have one, otherwise you'll need to lightly grease your cookie sheet.

When the hour has passed, take the dough from the freezer and use a spoon to help scoop up the dough, then roll between your palms to form a ball. You want balls of dough that are about 1½ inches round.

Tip: If you have a digital scale now is a great time to use it. Simply weigh out your dough then divide that by 33 and you’ll know exactly how much each cookie should weigh and you won’t have to guess at the size.

Roll the dough balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture so they are completely coated and place them on the prepared cookie sheet about two inches apart.

I suggest staggering your cookies 4 in the top row, three in the middle row and four on the bottom row so they get a better air flow. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

As soon as you take the cookies from the oven press down on them gently but firmly with the back of a spatula to flatten slightly if desired, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. 

You'll bake three sheets total for about 33 cookies.